It's been a hell of a week. Tuesday afternoon, I received an email from Rebecca, saying that Debbie had spoken with Takisha and I needed to call Rebecca. I wasn't surprised that this was happening, just that it took this long.
Takisha has decided that she cannot parent the baby anymore, and she would like to put him up for adoption. She wanted to me to have him, if I still wanted him. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?
Well...unfortunately, nothing is ever that simple.
In order to do this adoption, she didn't want to work with an agency, so the termination of her parental rights would be through the court and could take up to four or five weeks. In that time, she would continue to parent him, and then after her rights were terminated, I would take custody of him. At that point, the termination of her rights would be irrevocable.
So let's say, I can ride the emotional roller coaster with her for these five weeks, there is the added special part to the story of the birth father. While she initially told all of us that it was a one-night stand whose last name she didn't know, she is now telling us he is actually Brooklyn's (her toddler) father. And that in the hospital, the night I was visiting, right after I left, he threatened to kill her if she gave his son to a white woman. And that's why, she says, she changed her mind.
He has been of no help or support since they've gotten out of the hospital, but she is afraid of him and would like to do this adoption behind his back. However, because he is the father and he knows that, once Takisha's rights were terminated, he would have 60 to 90 days to contest the adoption. Immediately my red flag was raised -- what's to say that Takisha is telling the truth about any of this? What if she does go through with her part in court, what's to stop her from changing her mind and she wants her baby back, she can go to baby daddy and get him all riled up and have him contest the adoption?
And what's the likelihood that he would actually get the baby back, considering he doesn't support Brooklyn and didn't support Takisha during her pregnancy? Unlikely, but. That was the answer I got from Rebecca. More specifically, "NJ law is a bit of a grey area when it comes to birth father law. generally he should be entitled to be heard as to what is in the child's best interest. Each court is a bit different about how much weight they give to biology. In our case, Takisha would sign a detailed affidavit regarding him and his lack of support for this child or Brooklyn etc."
And then there is the safety aspect of it all, that both Jill (my Ithaca best friend) and Rebecca were concerned about. If Takisha is really and truly that afraid of him, that means he's dangerous. Anyone with a half a brain and a computer could find me. And I think between the two of them, they have at least half a brain. I don't need an angry man beating down my door at 3am, looking for his son. I don't want to look over my shoulder and fear for my son's and my safety the rest of my life.
Rebecca told me to think about it, talk about it. In the end, after much consideration, at least as much as I could think about it in a 48-hour period, I decided there were too many risks, too many variables. If it was one or two things, I would move forward full steam ahead and take the chance.
The thing I was most afraid of was not Takisha jerking me around for the next four or five weeks and then changing her mind at the 11th hour, it was not the birth father trying to find me several years from now or whenever he realized that she had given the baby up for adoption, it wasn't him contesting the adoption within those 90 days and the court giving the baby to him, it wasn't even Lesley's concern about Takisha coming out of the woodwork in a couple years and spinning some sob story about how she needs money and Brooklyn is his sister and won't I help them out -- though all of those were valid concerns.
The thing that bothered me the most was that she was deliberately going behind the birth father's back, not telling him she was doing this, not getting him to sign off on anything, and placing the baby in a home that he was opposed to. What I was most afraid of was a judge, seeing all this deceit behind the birth father's back and giving some credence to his DNA, and taking the baby away from me and placing him with an African-American family.
Nothing in my gut felt right about this situation. And when I told Rebecca my decision yesterday, it felt right. Walking away from this situation is not walking away from being a mother, and Jill made me say that out loud, just to make sure I believed it, that I wasn't thinking it (because I kind of was -- and she knows me so well).
Before I made my final decision, Rebecca forwarded an email from Debbie:
T wanted Laurie to know she is sorry she caused Laurie so much sadness. She said she would not have had Laurie visit on Thursday evening if T was not seriously in the adoption plan. It was after Lauire left that the the birth father escalated so by the time I met with T she couldnt express herself. T believes she has hit bottom by him abandoning them since three days after hospital release. She knows she was wrong, she has taken this time out to make sure before reconnecting with me and believes that her original reasons for needing the adoption have been confirmed by this time with baby and her daughter. She understands now that she cannot trust him. Her mom gives her emotional support via telephone calls but is unable to help T. Her mom is older.
What I said to Rebecca, after I told her of my decision, I asked her to write down verbatim. I don't know if Debbie would actually say this to Takisha, but I hope so:
Six weeks ago, you wanted me to be your son's mother, and I was thrilled, excited and ready to take that on. Every decision you've made in the last month have made it impossible for me to be his mother. And that is on you. Not me.
And I don't think you need a psych degree to analyze the dream I had last night. I had a friend's pre-teen son in the car
with me. We were in a bad part of town and a man with a gun saw me. I
started to speed away, but he chased us in his car, shooting at us. My
friend's son called 911 and told them what was happening. I ran red
lights. Drove on the sidewalk. Busted through a train crossing. I
couldn't let anything happen to this boy entrusted to me.
I'd been waiting for this phone call, but I thought it would have a
different ending. I had no way of knowing all the baggage attached to
the birth father issue. I was waiting for her to realize she made a
mistake. And even though this didn't end the way it did in my fantasies,
I know now for sure that this chapter is closed.